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Bridge by Matthew Dickman

Posted 11.01.12

Poet Matthew Dickman reads "Bridge" from his latest collection, Mayakovsky's Revolver, published in October by Norton. 

Bridge

Before ever getting to the bridge, at the corner
near the park, two young girls
walk by eating burgers, a mouthful
falls from one of their mouths
and she looks at me, still walking, and says
watchoutyougonnastepinsomefoodyoufuckingfaggitharharhar—
I don’t know anyone
who would sleep with them, who would
pull their jeans down and lift
their tiny hairs with the tip of his
tongue. Who would want their ass
in his face or the smell of ketchup and pickles slipping into his
mouth. And I can’t imagine them
walking over the Hawthorne Bridge, the river
all dark and lit up
like a hero in a vampire novel, can’t imagine them
so sad, so torn apart, knowing themselves
enough, that they would
lift their heavy bodies over the rail, one
of their fake jeweled sandals
falling onto the walkway,
and fall into the water below, and breathe in, and turn down, and be
gone. When I stop and look over
I think I’m nervous because I’m worried
I’ll lose my glasses, the black
frames slipping off, all the gravity
making them jump, pushing down on them
like a hand on the back
of my neck, what I see: the food falling,
the dumb thumping of the girls
walking, the trees inhaling all night,
the houseboats blinking, all of it happening
on the other side of the lenses. My favorite bridge. My favorite part
of the walk home. This choice
I think I have. In a Christmas movie I like,
a man is standing
on the ledge, looking down into the water, thinking
about it, getting himself ready,
giving people time to talk him back
to earth. Time for an angel in a gray overcoat
and a face from the 1950s to stop him. When I lean over
I can feel the cars racing east behind me, no one
pulls the emergency
brake, no one leans on the horn.
Maybe the girls are passing
in a friend’s car, being eaten
up by burgers and flavored lipstick,
the two songs of death
that their bodies are, and maybe
one of them waves, or it looks like she’s waving
when she flicks a cigarette, like this, out the window and it falls
and keeps falling.

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